After identifying some Common Mergansers in a roadside creek, Ken and I mounted our bikes and cycled ahead, to where Wendy was waiting. A group of large, cigar-shaped birds with long pointed wings and fast, jerky flight fluttered above Wendy. It took a moment for me to realize that I was looking at my #1 target species for the Southern B.C. area. “Black Swifts!” I yelled.
We dropped our bikes and stared at them as they wheeled about. Conveniently, a few Vaux’s Swifts were mingled amongst the Black Swifts, giving us an excellent size comparison: the tiny Vaux’s is swallow-sized as opposed to the Black Swift which is almost as big as a nighthawk!
Our bible, The Sibley Guide to Birds said Black Swifts are ”uncommon and very local”, so I had imagined a tough hike to a remote waterfall to a spot where they might nest. I had phoned local birders and Ken had called our friend Rachel Shephard whose home near Squamish we were headed for in a couple of days. I was prepared to do even more research, in the hopes of getting suggestions. The last thing that I’d have expected was to find a bunch right by the highway!